Almost every one of us has goals in our lives, big and small. But why are goals important?
Here are a few reasons why goals may be important to us:
Goals help give direction. Who sets out on a journey without having a pretty good idea of how to get there?
Goals help to identify items of significance in our lives.
Goal-setting helps us to measure progress along our path.
Goals can help with specific motivations.
Creating goals is a form of countability.
Despite our greatest intentions and honest desires to improve ourselves, our goals often get set aside as careers, families, social lives, and other commitments compete for our limited time and devotion.
Want to know what is better than setting goals?
Focus on systems instead. Goals are great for determining a particular direction, but systems are far better for actually achieving progress.
Goals create brief changes while systems create more significant changes.
Consider this story of carrying buckets versus building a pipeline:
There was once a small village that time needed water brought to the town from the nearby fresh water source. Men were hired to carry buckets of water to the town for a price that was agreed upon by all.
Another gentleman decided he could build a pipeline to achieve the same results, so he focused his energy on designing and building this pipeline.
Once the pipeline was complete, everyone could see the wisdom and efficiency of the pipeline.
No more sick days, no more sore arms, feet, and shoulders; no more broken buckets, and no more disruption of the water supply!
We can apply that thinking to our own circumstances. When we have an efficient system in place rather than simple goals, we minimize the chance for the inevitable disruptions in our lives. We minimize the unintended situations in our busy lives to get in the way of our desired outcomes.
The targets we want to reach are our goals – the action plans by which we get there are the systems we put in place.
When we focus on goals, not systems, we risk experiencing repeated failure time and time again and discouragement soon appears in our lives.
As we emphasize the system method, we succeed nearly every time because we can see that our efforts are making progress towards our desired outcome. That, in itself, creates momentum in the direction we want to go.
Here’s one example from the world of weight loss:
Suppose we have a weekly goal (target) of no more than 10,000 calories. Those calories divided evenly over seven days amount to about 1,428 calories per day.
When we keep a notebook and pen in our kitchen, we simply record what we’ve spent in calories for that apple, a slice of cheese or whatever it is we are consuming.
If we have been honest with ourselves, we’ll know every day, and without a doubt, if we have had a successful day in our weight loss objective.
Even when the scale doesn’t reflect our win as a number, we’ll have the undeniable truth on our side that we did it! That momentum often carries us into the next week where we will eventually get validation at the scale.
Embrace focusing on the systems – forget the idea of setting goals only.
By regularly revisiting our goals and action plans it also helps to keep those ideas relevant, realistic, interesting, and motivating. Revisiting also helps to ensure they reflect our present circumstances and objectives.
Remember, even small steps taken towards reaching our desired outcomes are steps of progress.